The Florida Gators entered preseason camp with a murky quarterback situation, but head coach Jim McElwain officially named Luke Del Rio as his starter on Thursday. The redshirt sophomore was considered to be the favorite to land the gig, and ultimately won it over Austin Appleby. Appleby just transferred to Florida after playing three seasons at Purdue.
Del Rio has bounced around, as well. He walked on at Alabama back in 2013 before transferring to Oregon State the following year. A coaching regime change in Corvallis caused Del Rio to transfer once again to Florida as a walk-on last year. He made three appearances during his brief stay with the Beavers, completing 8-of-18 passes for 141 yards without a touchdown or an interception.
While Appleby is new to the system, Del Rio was able to take advantage of his extra year with the Gators’ personnel. Florida has run through nine different placeholder quarterbacks since Tim Tebow left for the NFL after the 2009 season, and McElwain is hopeful that Del Rio can finally bring some stability to the position.
Florida was a surprise team in the SEC East in McElwain’s first season at the helm in 2015, finishing with a 10-4 record on the heels of Will Muschamp’s disastrous three-year tenure. The season ended in disappointing fashion with three straight losses, though, including a 41-7 defeat in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl at the hands of Michigan. Last season’s primary quarterbacks, Will Grier and Treon Harris, both transferred during the offseason.
The Gators’ 2016 campaign gets underway September 3 against UMass.